James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin High School celebrated its distinguished graduates, who are making their dreams come true, during the 3rd Annual Distinguished Graduates ceremony on November 21, 2017.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization was created in 2015 to recognize Catoctin High graduates who have made a difference in their post-high school careers. Graduates are recognized in five different categories: Academics, Arts and Humanities, Athletics, Business, and Service (community, military, or public). Former staff members are also recognized for the impact they had on the school community. Each honoree was given an engraved award, a Catoctin High School print, and a Catoctin High blanket.

Catoctin Principal Bernie Quesada told the senior and freshmen classes, who filled the auditorium for the ceremony, that he hoped they would be inspired by what fellow Catoctin graduates had accomplished and that they would “understand the legacy” of Catoctin High School.


Rebecca Yates Shorb

Rebecca Yates Shorb worked as an art teacher at Catoctin from 1970 to 1994. She was recognized as a former staff member. She told the students that up until this point in their lives, they have been on a journey to discover what their gifts are.

“If you pay attention, you’ll know what direction life wants to take you in,” she stated.

She urged the students to be open to changes, but to always seek to live the life of their dreams.


Paul Nolan

Former Catoctin coach and athletic director, Paul Nolan was also recognized as a former staff member. He talked about the goals he set in his life and working to achieve them. He encouraged the students to set goals for themselves and to pursue making those goals become realities.

“Now is the time to decide what you want to do, where you want to go,” Nolan told students.


Meaghan (Eyler) Delawter

Meaghan (Eyler) Delawter received the academic award. A lawyer who has recently started her own successful legal practice, Delawter told the students a story of when she was at the lowest point of her life, and how it only turned around when she decided to “chase the lion.”

Chasing the lion is a concept presented in a book she read about facing your fears, chasing them down, and conquering them. The book also made her realize that if trying to achieve her dream didn’t scare her, then it wasn’t a big enough dream.

She told the students that they would fail at some point in their lives, but they needed to turn those failures and the fears of failing into motivators to achieve.

“If I had let my fears scare me, I’m not sure where I’d actually be,” Delawter advised students.


Jonathon West

Jonathon West received the athletics award. A former Frederick County player of the year, and currently an estimating analyst for NVR, he praised the staff and offerings at Catoctin High for giving him the opportunity to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. It then became his job to make the most of those opportunities.

“Opportunities are given, but success is earned,” voiced West.


Richard Love

Local dentist Dr. Richard Love received the business award. He spoke to the students about having strong core values, embracing teamwork, and doing the right thing. He also urged that they should put themselves on the path of constant and never-ending improvement.

Although he also enjoyed playing sports in high school and college, he realized that he would never be a stand-out star. By the same token, he also saw that he had a part to play on the team, and if he did his best in his role, he would help the team.

Love has applied this idea of being part of team and a team leader to growing and managing his business.


Ryan Rippeon

Navy Lt. Cdr. Ryan Rippeon received the military service award. He also spoke of turning life’s failures into learning experiences. Getting his first failing grade at the Naval Academy allowed him to switch majors to something he loves and excels in. Failing his first interview for a position with the White House Communications Agency enabled him to hone his skills and advance in rank, so that the position he eventually took in the agency was even better than the original position for which he had applied.

“You’re going to fail,” he leveled with the students. “Let yourself learn from it, because great things can come of it.”


Scott Hahn

Scott Hahn received the public service award. He emphasized to the students to find something they could believe in, something that brings joy to their lives. He found his in helping feed the hungry as the food packaging director for Feed the Hunger. The Evangelical organization has helped feed millions of people in the United States and in some of the poorest places in the world.

He also cautioned the students against gauging their success by their material wealth. “Life will leave you empty if your main goal is to accumulate things.”

Michael Gray

Drummer Michael Gray received the arts and humanities awards. He told the students his story of how he pursued his dream of making a career in the music business. He and his wife left their Baltimore home in 2002 to move to Nashville, Tennessee. With no promise of work, he began to build a name for himself in the music business. His persistence paid off, and he became the drummer in a new band, being formed by then-unknown country artist Lee Brice. Brice and his band have since produced a number of top-10 hits.

Gray urged the students to go after their dreams and not let anyone stop them.


Catoctin Principal Bernie Quesada concluded the ceremony, declaring, “All of us have a place in the history and future of Catoctin High School.”

Pictured from left are Rebecca Yates Shorb, Paul Nolan, Meaghan Delawter, Jonathan West, Richard Love, Ryan Rippeon, Scott Hahn, and Michael Gray.

Laura Knotts’ garden has produced over 1,100 pounds of squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs, since this past June. Yet, she hasn’t tasted any of it. All of the produce is donated to New Hope Ministries in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, to be given out to families in need.

“Every load of produce that we’ve had come in is gone the next day,” said Jeanne Troy, New Hope Ministries northern region gift officer. “It is such a premium to have fresh produce.”

New Hope Ministries serves around 2,900 people a month. Because of the availability of the herbs and vegetables from Knotts’ garden, New Hope Ministries is now teaching the families it serves how to cook with fresh vegetables.

Knotts, a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Smithsburg, is a member of the American Heritage Girls. Her troop meets in Dillsburg, Pennslyvania, which is why she located her garden in Pennsylvania. The garden is 40 by 60 feet, and she arranged for the land and equipment. She also made sure that there are volunteers to maintain the garden. The Ames Charitable Foundation donated the tools for the garden work, built the storage shed, and built the fencing.

Knotts got the idea for the garden when she was looking for a project to earn her Stars and Stripes Award, the highest award in the American Heritage Girls. Not only did Knotts have to design the project, but she also had to show leadership in it and have at least one hundred hours of participation.

“I looked around and saw New Hope Ministries and thought it was an organization that I could help out,” Knotts said. “I asked what they needed, and Jeanne told me there was always a need for a fresh source of produce.”

The pantry typically receives only canned or boxed items. Knotts came up with the idea of creating a garden that could provide needed pesticide-free, fresh produce for the pantry. It also tied in with Knotts goal of becoming a nutritionist when she starts college next fall.

The garden is now a permanent part of the West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, where the plot is located.

“She set up a plan for keeping it running for the next few years,”Troy said. “Next season, all we have to do is clean up the ground, till it, and plant seeds.”

Knotts said that she would like the see the Mechanicsburg garden enlarged to provide more for New Hope Ministries. She would also like to see other churches duplicate the idea on their properties to give fresh produce to their local food pantries.


Seventeen-year-old Laura Knotts of Smithsburg donated 1,100 pounds of fresh produce, from the garden she created and built, to New Hope Ministries for the hungry in need.

Pictured from left are Russ Delauter, Charles “Jake” Spalding, Larry Clabaugh, Frank Valentine, and Dick Shank.

Photo by Ross Lillard, member of Trinity UCC

On Sunday, November 5, 2017, Trinity United Church of Christ held its fourth special Veterans Day Service and Recognition.  The service was held at 101 East Main Street in Thurmont at 11:00 a.m., with a luncheon immediately following the worship service.  Special recognition was given to those who are currently serving and Veterans who had previously served in any branch of the United States Armed Services, as well as any named persons who are deceased and had previously served their country.

The church’s goal was to thank the living and to honor the deceased Veterans in our communities for their dedicated and loyal service to our country.

Honored guests who attended the service included Pastor Emeritus from Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church and retired commander U.S. Navy, Pastor Dale Williams leading the service, along with Trinity’s pastor, Sean DeLawder.  Other participants include Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, Honor and Color Guard from the Thurmont AMVETS, musical group “Solid Ground” out of Fort Detrick, Commissioners of Thurmont, Retired Rev. Sherman Mason, Gary Jagow, and other retired persons of service.

Anita DiGregory

Have you found that the abundance of digital technology available today has led to continual distractions and interruptions and even hindered your ability to get more accomplished throughout the day? Do you struggle trying to keep your tweens and teens from spending too much time on devices or video games? Have you found yourself thinking that the quality of life or family time has dwindled as a result of digital technology? If so, you are not alone. In fact, local resident and Mount St. Mary’s University professor Joshua Hochschild has not only taught a class on the subject, he has co-authored a book regarding this topic. In his recently released book, A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction, Hochschild and Christopher Blum offer concrete advice and encouragement on reclaiming interior peace and order.

“Chris contacted me in Spring 2016, and we talked about how classical spiritual wisdom could address modern social challenges,” said Hochschild.  “He sensed there was an opportunity to give people a way to highlight the challenges of technology and digital media and cultivate a sense of interior peace. Together, we wanted to offer classical Christian wisdom to help people renew the order of the soul that can negotiate today’s distraction-filled environment.”

Because the writing of the book coincided with Hochschild’s Mount class “Friendship and Contemplation in the Digital Age,” he was happy to involve his students, allowing them to both read the manuscript and offer timely feedback. He noted that his students recognized the habits developing around digital media and even opted for self-imposed fasting in different forms from these digital distractions.

Released in August, A Mind at Peace offers wisdom from authors, philosophers, and great thinkers, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. However, the reader should not be intimidated, as the authors do an excellent job of making the information relatable and attainable. The “Questions for Reflection” at the end of each section are a favorite element for self-reflection. Having held the positions of “Top 5 of Catholic Self Help” books and “Number 1 New Best Seller in Catholic Self Help,” the book has proved both timely and important. The book and its authors have been featured on different radio shows and podcasts. Additionally, the book was also the focus of a Mount campus retreat.

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, Hochschild and his new release were featured in the premiere “Chat with an Author,” an innovative series, hosted by the Seton Shrine in an effort to introduce talented and inspirational authors to the community. Hosted in the Shrine’s Visitor Center Theater, the event was moderated by fellow Mount Professor John Mark Miravalle. The talk centered around key elements of the book and was followed by the opportunity for audience members to ask questions and share observations. Immediately after, Hochschild took time to meet with different attendees and sign copies of his book.

With regards to the first Chat with an Author event, which was both well attended and received by the community, Rob Judge, executive director at the Seton Shrine stated, “Josh has a compelling solution to the busy, distracted lives we’re all living, and we’re excited to have him here and help people begin to refocus their lives to return to a sense of peace.”

The Seton Shrine will be highlighting more authors in the future. On February 11, 2018, Stephanie Calis, author of Invited:  The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner, will be featured at the next Chat with an Author event. On April 29, 2018, local mom and author Colleen Duggan will be highlighted.


Pictured are (left) Mount Professor John Mark Miravalle and (right) author and fellow Mount Professor Joshua Hochschild.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Smarsh, Seton Shrine


James Rada, Jr.

Nearly a decade ago, Brother Pascale O’Brien of Divine Mercy should have been dead four times over.

“I had the Last Rites given to me four times, and my younger brother was told to have me prepare a living will,” O’Brien said.

He had blood clots in his system that the doctors thought would kill him. O’Brien’s health remained precarious. When he finally recovered, his doctor told him that his survival had been nothing less than miraculous.

“I started thinking what I could do to repay the Lord for saving my life,” O’Brien said.

He decided to take the vows of a hermit.

While you might imagine a hermit as a bearded old man living in seclusion in the woods, cut off from society, Catholic hermits are men, and sometimes women, who have dedicated their lives to the Lord. O’Brien, who turned seventy this year, is retired from the dietary department with Daughters of Charity. He had no children, and he has never been married.

He applied to be a hermit through the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The process not only included interviews, but also a psychological evaluation. The evaluation took years, but he finally took his final vows in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at Mount St. Mary’s University on October 1, 2017. O’Brien said that the Mass was a “bigger event” than he thought it would be.

“My life is now dedicated to the Lord,” O’Brien said. “My life is about how God can use me as a vessel in the lives of other people.”

His days are now spent performing spiritual exercises, studying the Bible, and praying for the church and families who are in need.

Although some hermits live on their own in hermitages, O’Brien lives on his own and conducts his exercises in the privacy of his apartment. He wears a brother’s collar, habit, and ring to show that he is celibate.

“I am no better than anyone else, but I am striving to become better and more holy,” O’Brien said.

As he works toward this goal, his life is quiet unless he is listening to spiritual music or watching a church sermon. He does not interact much with the world unless it is needed. His time and attention are instead focused on growing closer to his God.

“I feel blessed,” O’Brien said. “I feel fulfilled, and I feel like I have a purpose in life.”


Brother Pascale O’Brien is shown on the day he took his final vows to become a hermit on October 1, 2017.


by James Rada, Jr.


Possible Urgent Care Center in Emmitsburg’s Future

The Emmitsburg Mayor and Commissioners welcomed Mount President Timothy Trainor to the town meeting, and congratulated him on his permanent appointment as university president.

During his remarks, Trainor said that the growth of the Mount’s sports programming had placed a strain on the college’s ability to provide healthcare for its athletes. As a consequence, the university was sending out an RFP to healthcare partners to remedy this issue.

“As we do that, these partners are interested in potentially putting an urgent care type of facility in a surrounding community that would support not just the Mount, but could support the surrounding community,” Trainor said.

While it is a future project, it is something that is on Trainor’s radar to pursue.


Town Prepared for State Monitoring of Toxins

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets told the commissioners that the State of Maryland was looking into monitoring reservoirs for toxins. However, because the town’s new sonic algae-control system has been effective in controlling blue-green algae—which is responsible for the release of toxins in water—Emmitsburg was ahead of the game and well prepared for any monitoring that the state set up.


Davis Appointed to Planning Commission

The Emmitsburg Commissioners unanimously appointed Frank Davis to the planning commission. His term will run from January 2, 2018, to July 2, 2022.


Free Parking in Emmitsburg

The Emmitsburg Commissioners voted to not require the town parking meters to be fed from December 15, 2017, to January 2, 2018. The commissioners do this every year to encourage shoppers to visit downtown. Since this gift is not advertised, any money that is fed into the meters will be donated to the Emmitsburg Heritage Day event to help offset the costs of putting it together.


Joint Council Between Town and Mount a Possibility

Another idea that Mount President Timothy Trainor suggested to the Emmitsburg Commissioners was that sometime in the future a joint council between the town and college be formed. It would meet occasionally to discuss issues of mutual interest.


East End Park Inclusive Playground is Finished

Thurmont’s one-of-a-kind, inclusive playground at East End Park is completed and open. The town held a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the first phase of the playground was complete. A second celebration was held on November 17 at the playground to celebrate its entire completion. The playground is behind the Thurmont Senior Center, across the street from Thurmont Elementary School. The Catoctin Civitan Club started the project and conducted the fundraising for it. Playground Specialists, Inc. installed the equipment, which will allow all children, no matter their disabilities, to have fun playing.


Volunteers for the Thurmont Snow Team Needed

The Town of Thurmont is seeking students and adults to serve on the Thurmont Snow Team. This group of volunteers will remove snow from the sidewalks of seniors and residents with disabilities. Students can use any time they spend working with the team as volunteer hours towards graduation. You can pick up the application forms by December 15 at the Thurmont Town Office or Thurmont Police Department. You can also call Kristi Wood at 301-271-0905 x105 to have the forms mailed to you.


Extra Precautions Taken at Colorfest After Las Vegas Attack

You may not have noticed it, but Colorfest had an extra police presence this year. The Las Vegas massacre left Thurmont Police worried that the Colorfest crowds might make a similar target.

“We could be hit here with a vehicle driving through the crowd if it wanted to,” Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer James Humerick told the Thurmont Commissioners before Colorfest in October.

To try and head off the possibility of this happening, some changes were made this year.

“We’re putting barricades at Frederick Road north of Howard Street and at Frederick Road and Moser Road,” Humerick said. “Those barricades are going to be there to stop vehicles from coming through.”

Other precautions were also taken that weren’t released to the public.

Pictured from left, Violet Markwell, Michael Markwell, and their Nana, Mary Swager, try out the new inclusive playground apparatus at East End Inclusive Playground.

Mayor John Kinnaird

We are fast approaching the end of the year, and each year seems to pass quicker than the one before. I know that this year has been good to me, and I hope it was good for you as well. With Christmas just a few weeks away, Karen and I want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas in Thurmont is coming up on Saturday, December 2. Be sure to stop downtown and register the kids for the many gifts and prizes. Santa will be at Mechanicstown Square Park to meet with all the children, parents, friends, and pets. The day will include free photos with Santa, horse drawn wagon rides, a story with Santa at the Regional Library, and fun and prizes for everyone.

This time of year brings with it colder weather, employment slowdowns, and all the seasonal difficulties many of our neighbors face. Please keep the less fortunate of our community in mind this winter by helping support the Thurmont Food Bank, Thurmont Clothes Closet, Seton Center, and other local charity organizations. Your donation of food, clothes, or cash can help bring joy to a local family.

I want to thank Catoctin Colorfest Inc. for the generous donations they made to our community this year. Their donations totaled $20,676.80 and included $1,500.00 each to the Guardian Hose Company, Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, and the Thurmont Police Department. Catoctin FFA received $1,146, and $4,500 to Catoctin High School Scholarships. The Thurmont Food Bank received $3,400. Other beneficiaries include $1,000 to the Trolley Mural Project, $5,000 for improvements in Community Park, $325 to the Library, and $200 for flowers and decorations in our parks.

You might have noticed that the sidewalk project on Moser Road is nearing completion. This project will improve pedestrian safety on the road and allow easy access to the Regional Library. Improvements to the Frederick Road intersection will help turns onto Moser and the narrowing will help control speeds. This project is a joint effort of the Town of Thurmont and Frederick County.

The recent Town election has returned Commissioners Hooper and Burns to office and yours truly to the office of mayor. I appreciate the opportunity to serve our community for another term, and I look forward to working with our residents, town staff, and the commissioners, as we work together to make Thurmont a great community.

Please contact me at 301-606-9458 or jkinnaird@thurmont.com with any comments, questions or suggestions.

Mayor Don Briggs

I was looking for the tempest, but the gift of mild weather heralded in November. However, there are signs of more sobering weather to come in December.

Thank you to everyone for your patience with the Square and all the sidewalk work. For the first time, Brookfiield and Pembrook subdivisions are connected to the town with a sidewalk. There will be a heavy concentration of work at the Square in an attempt to complete this section prior to the freezing weather. The project may be completed six months ahead of schedule.

ALERT — CHANGE IN LOCATION: Because of downtown construction, the Town Christmas tree lighting on Monday, December 4, will take place in front of the Town Office and Community Center. Christmas music provided by a DJ will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Mother Seton School and Christ Community Church chorales at 5:45 p.m. Then, at about 6:30 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive. Next, we will go down two blocks to the Carriage House Inn for the 29th annual “An Evening of Christmas Spirit” event for more entertainment, hay rides, free hot dogs, and hot chocolate.

ALERT — CHANGE IN DATE: Regularly scheduled Town Council meeting is moved to Tuesday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m.

Dipping back into the last days of October: I was honored to be the starter for the ESP Performing Company’s 7th Annual Autumn 5K course, “Halloween Edition” through the Mount Saint Mary’s University east campus. Eager runners—many costumed—set the tone for the wonderful fundraiser. Also, with a nod to the mild weather, the largest crowd, by many accounts, participated in or crowded the square to cheer on the annual Halloween parade as it progressed down North Seton Avenue through the town square. Then it was on to Vigilant Hose Company for refreshments and costume awards. Thank you to the Lions Club, Vigilant Hose Company, and all the businesses and civic groups that also shouldered the event. Everyone loved it; you were a success.

In November: Another solemn Veterans’ Day 21-gun salute tribute by the joint American Legion – VFW Honor Guard at our seven area cemeteries. Out of town for a wedding, I missed this year’s commemoration for the first time in seven years. Commissioner Glenn Blanchard, a Veteran, represented the town.

On several Saturday mornings, our Boy Scout Troop 727, huddled in threes and fours in their illuminated vests, gathered for merit badge credit, applying yellow refresher coats of paint to forty to fifty fire hydrants. Good to see. Thank you for the public service, your merit noted. It’s been almost twenty years since the Mount rugby team did similar volunteer work for the town.

Interesting article on farming in the Wall Street Journal (October 24, 2017) titled, “Supersized Family Owned Farms Transform U.S. Agriculture.” Four percent of U.S. farms now produce over two-thirds of the country’s agricultural output. There has not been anything like this since the U.S.D.A. began keeping records on size/production in the 1980s. The article goes on to note that one Kansas farmer can fly his Cessna thirty-plus miles over the property he owns. That’s 30,600 acres. Farm holdings of this size enjoy the economies of scale that enables them to pressure farm suppliers and grain companies for lower prices and discounts accommodations that are not available to smaller farmers. As a result, more, and smaller, farmers are being driven out of business. The average size of a farm in Frederick County is about 140 acres. Living amidst a beautiful farm community, rimmed to the west by Catoctin Mountain, we have to support our local farmers in every way. Dine at “farm to fork” restaurants. Shop at our Farmer’s Market. Stop by a local orchard.

At the recent Frederick Chapter Maryland Municipal League (MML) meeting, the membership approved its 2018 Legislative priorities. The No. 1 priority was to restore municipal Highway User Revenue (HURS) to pre-recession levels. In 2010, HURS funds (from state budgets) for municipalities lost 96 percent of transportation revenues. Currently, they have been 61 percent restored. Thank you for last year’s nudge. Please, Governor Hogan, take us back to pre-2010 level. Our municipal budgets need the revenue.

Hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and wishing a Merry Christmas to all.

Experience the joy of a Moravian Christmas at Graceham Moravian Church in Thurmont. A Moravian Christmas Homecoming will be held December 9-10; enjoy a Christmas Concert on December 13 and Cristabelle Braden’s Christmas Concert on December 17; and Christmas Eve Candlelight and Lovefeast Services on December 24. View the advertisement on page 37 for more information.

Support the Catoctin High School Class of 2018 Safe & Sane by coming out for their upcoming fundraising events: Holiday Bingo on December 16, 2017, at the Lewistown Fire Hall, with dinner and drinks included; Winter Dance & Silent Auction on January 13, 2018, at the Thurmont American Legion, featuring Sticktime Band; and Dining for Dollars at Roy Rogers in Thurmont on December 7, 2017, from 5:00-9:00 p.m. View the advertisement on page 18 for more information.

The Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, located on Motters Station Road in Rocky Ridge, is holding a Money Bingo on December 2, 2017. Bingo features new prizes: $500 and $1,000 jackpots at 57 numbers or less! Doors open at 4:30 p.m., with Bingo beginning at 7:00 p.m. View the advertisement on page 10 for more information.

The much-anticipated annual Christmas in Thurmont will be held on Saturday, December 2, 2017, starting at 10:00 a.m. Bring the whole family to this fun free event, featuring a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a Christmas performance by ESP, the CHS band, prize drawings, business stamping, and much more! View the advertisement on page 6 for more information.